By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN
To the average high school junior, college is a possible pathway that can be very strenuous due to an near-impossible balance of football games, finals, college applications and activities.
However, for Delanie Howes, her college experience is only a 10-minute car ride away.
“I’m taking American Sign Language 102 and it’s amazing; the teacher is really great,” said Howes, a junior at Citrus Valley High School.
This is just one example of courses offered by “Jumpstart2college,” a recently created dual enrollment program that allows high school students like Howes take college-level courses like Arabic and Sociology at Redlands high schools with real Crafton Hills College professors for free.
“I thought taking ASL was something unique and different compared to taking Spanish or French in high school.” Adds Howes, “I didn’t know anyone going into the class but I’ve made a lot of new friends.” With the credits she earns with dual enrollment, Howes will most likely start college with advanced freshman standing.
The Dual Enrollment program is also an opportunity for students to learn more about subjects that high school environments do not typically offer. According to Redlands East Valley counselor Shana Delmonico, REV has never taught Arabic and American Sign Language during the regular school day, and neither has FIRET 101, or Fire Prevention Technology. “Jumpstart2college” offers all three courses for the spring semester.
“When the courses started,” Coordinator of College, Career and Special Programs Dr. Stephanie Lock said, “the course selection was based on what we, the educators at RUSD and Crafton Hills, thought would be of high-interest to a variety of students. Since that time, however, we have tried to be more purposeful in the course offerings by providing students a way to get a jumpstart on their general elective courses that would be required as part of a college program at a UC, CSU, or Community College.”
Students vote for which classes continue with the power of their presence: when there are not enough enrollees, the administration cancels them. This culling of courses allows for the best to survive. Introduction to Engineering was canceled due to lack of enrollment, though CV senior who took the class last year Jon Carlo Bibat wishes this would not have happened.
“I liked meeting other people in the class with similar interests. I liked the fact that by the end of the semester, everyone became really close friends. The field trips and guest speakers were also very interesting,” said Bibat.
His success in the class last year reaffirmed his decision to be an engineer after college and the class’ emphasis on materials science will give him a background for future internships and jobs that many applicants may lack. He hopes to attend a four-year university this fall.
Students who want to get a headstart on college but are not interested in the current courses offered have the opportunity to enroll as a Concurrent Enrollment student at Crafton Hills Community College but do not benefit from the free tuition and local classes that “Jumpstart2college” offers. REV junior Nga Nguyen is one such person.
“Depending on the class, I would definitely be motivated to take courses if they were offered via dual enrollment,” she said. “I’m currently taking Multivariable Calculus and have previously taken Linear Algebra at Crafton. There have been difficulties in registering for the classes and in transportation itself, so being able to go to familiar settings would be much more convenient and comfortable, especially since I can’t drive.”
Nguyen continues: “Going to the courses at Crafton always has an intimidating factor, considering some of the students are married and have kids and have already bought apartments and I’m not even an adult yet. Being with fellow high school students would make the environment more comfortable, as while being in a classroom of adults you are constantly reminded that you are different just by glancing around.”
To California State University San Bernardino, involvement in a dual enrollment program in high school “helps students stand out in the admissions process” and shows that “students are ready to succeed at the university level” and remarks admissions counselor Lucia Zarate. Good grades in these courses can lead to large amounts of savings. What would cost thousands to take at CSUSB can instead be completely free, and clever planning may even shave off up to “a year, or close to a year, of general elective courses” or could have students “be able to complete half of an associate’s degree while still in high school,” according to Dr. Lock.
“Either way,” she relates, “all of the courses count, at a minimum, for college elective credit, and students are able to receive that credit for free.” In comparison, Advanced Placement courses “may result in some college credit based on whether or not a student passes and whether or not the college accepts the credit,” leading to frustration and confusion when it is time to sign the tuition check at a four-year university.
Whether students consider the program as a path to an early college degree or as an opportunity to lower tuition, “Jumpstart2college” is a mutually beneficial partnership between RUSD and Crafton Hills College–something that school districts nationwide strive to emulate.
The “Jumpstart2college” program offers College Arabic II, Drawing I, American Sign Language II, Interpersonal Communication, Stress Management and Emotional Wellbeing, Fire Prevention Technology and Appreciation of American Popular Music for the spring 2018 semester. Classes started the week of Jan. 15 and will end in late May. Some courses like College Arabic II require a prerequisite of the first-semester class. For more information or to comment on course selection, please contact Dr. Stephanie Lock at email@example.com.